NASAA Notes: May 2021

May 3, 2021

New York: Excelsior Digital Pass for COVID-19 Status

Numerous states are debating the economic, public health, equity and privacy aspects of passport systems that enable individuals to share proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status. New York is the first state in the nation to launch such a digital vaccine credential.

In an effort to fast-track safe reopening of arts, sports, entertainment and other business venues, New York launched the Excelsior Pass—a free, voluntary platform that enables individuals to store and share digital proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.

The new authentication system operates similarly to a mobile airline boarding pass. Individuals are able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app, available free from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Each Excelsior Pass has a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 test results or vaccination, thus making it safer to convene large events. The tool guarantees to keep individuals’ data secure and confidential. As part of its initial launch, the Excelsior Pass can be used by participating New Yorkers at theaters, major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, catered events, and other events in accordance with New York state guidelines. Arts, entertainment and event venues are now beginning to utilize the technology to reopen their doors.

The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), in partnership with Empire State Development, recently offered a webinar titled The Role of the Excelsior Pass in the Reopening of the Arts to help arts organizations learn about the app and strategize ways to integrate it into their programming. In a conversation facilitated by NYSCA Executive Director Mara Manus, state leaders explored how the Excelsior Pass could help the arts safely return in New York through a detailed presentation and Q&A session. “The Excelsior Pass will be a critical tool in reopening the arts across New York, creating safe spaces for artists and audiences alike,” said Manus. The arts council launched the NYSCA PRESENTS webinar series in May 2020. To date, it has offered seven free webinars to support the arts and cultural sector during this critical time, drawing more than 3,500 viewers.

Learn more about how this new technology is being implemented by the arts and cultural sector in New York. For more information about the NYSCA PRESENTS webinar series, contact

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